Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

CERC to hold rally on Friday

CERC's "Carry That Weight" rally. (Daily Collegian File Photo)
CERC’s “Carry That Weight” rally. (Daily Collegian File Photo)

The Coalition to End Rape Culture will be holding a rally in front of the Student Union Center at 12:15 p.m. Friday, which will culminate with a march to Whitmore, where organizers will present the Administration Offices with a petition demanding the University to adopt a Survivor’s Bill of Rights.

According to a copy of the Survivor’s Bill of Rights drafted by CERC, members are demanding that the University formally adopt the document because the current resources made available to survivors of sexual assault are inadequate.

The document states: “The University of Massachusetts community needs a Survivor’s Bill of Rights because survivors of sexual/gender-based assault, violence, and rape need the University to address an institutional problem via institutional protection and resources, and to be able to hold the University accountable when these rights are violated. The current state of affairs at UMass reflect and promote an unsafe and unjust climate for survivors. These assaults are addressed on a case-by-case basis instead of viewed as an institutional problem.”

The document continues: “Currently, policies and resources available to survivors are underpublicized and inaccessible, and too often ignore the true needs of survivors. Survivors need easily accessible, confidential resources without having to interact with the police department, and should know when they are talking to a mandated reporter.

The current reporting process is unclear. Survivors often feel scared to report, and are pressured to do so by law enforcement officials and medical examiners. In addition to the Dean of Students offices, reported cases need to be investigated by impartial professionals with extensive backgrounds in understanding sexual assault and gender-based violence. This contributes to a recovery process that is re-traumatizing to the survivor.”

The document then provides a list of over 25 rights that each survivor of sexual assault should be entitled to. The succeeding section offers a list of policy initiatives that members of CERC are demanding the University to adopt to protect a survivor during the investigation, adjudication and healing processes following an incident of sexual assault.

The Bill of Rights also requires all members of faculty and staff in the University undergo sexual assault training, and request that a copy of the document be posted in all dorms, dining halls, at the Student Union and in the Campus Center.

CERC has actively lobbied the University to adopt more protective tactics for handling situations of sexual assault as well as provide more visible and extensive resources for survivors.

Representatives from the organization participated in the Million Student March at the beginning of November. The RSO also played an integral role in the University’s decision to create a Title IX website, a single website that offers information about all the resources available on campus to survivors of sexual assault.
The University, along with 54 other colleges, came under federal investigation for Title IX violations and the handling of sexual assault complaints in the summer of 2011. The University has stated that the investigation, which is ongoing, was not in response to specific complaint but rather, is standard practice.

Earlier this week, the last of four men who were charged with various accounts of rape regarding a 2012 incident on UMass’ campus pleaded guilty to a charge of rape. The three other men stood trial and were convicted on charges of aggravated rape.

The woman in the case, an UMass student at the time, recently filed a lawsuit against the University for negligence related to the 2012 gang rape. The suit alleges the University failed in their role to provide a safe environment for a student. Following the 2012 incident, the University spent $2 million on increasing security at the dorms across campus.
Brendan Deady can be reached at [email protected].

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